Monday, December 28, 2009

Update on the Thousand Colours for Abruzzo project.

You may remember reading about this wonderful project some time ago. I was lucky enough to take part.

All we had to do was make a brightly coloured quilt suitable for young children. This was then going to be given to the young children affected by the dreadful earthquake which devastated the Abruzzo area of Italy. I was very fortunate to have a good friend, Jude, helping me with the quilting. She has a long-arm quilting machine and her kindness in quilting this for me meant that I could send the quilt off to Italy in good time.

It was really exciting to hear from Roberta the other day, and to hear that the quilts had been delivered to the children.
Please go to Roberta's Blog to read all about this amazing project and to see photographs of some of the children's faces. It sounds from Roberta's descriptions as if it was a really emotional time. Be prepared to take some time to read all of the posts, so get yourself a cup of tea (or whatever you prefer) and settle down to the full story. It is truly delightful.

I do hope that you have had a really lovely Christmas. My best wishes to you and your families.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Frosty morning.

Its so lovely outside. A really frosty morning. Now I see the fog is slowly creeping back. How sad, but at least we had a short spell free of fog when the sunshone on these beautiful cobwebs.

Its nice that even the rubbish bins outside can be adorned with jewels like this.

The garden gate and my car got their share of embellishments too. I came into the warm before my fingers got too cold.

I have been buying fabric again! Not good, but I really couldn't resist these lovely pieces.

This is the collection of green fabrics left after working on the Green Quilt. Why is it that my collections of fabric grow even though I am using the fabric faster than I can buy it? Does anyone else have this affliction? Well, more a pleasure than an affliction. I love cuddling my fabric.

Sorry, there are no photos of the Green Quilt yet. I shall post these publicly once Liz and Simon have taken possession of what will become their quilt. It is their Christmas Present.

The fabric on the right is going to be the sashing for the quilt. The fabric on the left is destined for my mother's quilt. This should be my next big project. I have not quite decided upon the final design yet. Mum needs a quilt with a fleece backing for her favourite chair. I see the design being something to do with gardens. Mum's garden is a delightful jumble of plants, and in the summer is full of colour. It is long and narrow, sloping away from the house - one of a row of terraced houses. A traditional English Country Garden but without the vegetable plot. There is even a lovely bubbling stream down at the bottom of her garden. It floods at this time of year, but seldom reaches much above half way up the garden.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Working steadily - my own projects.

Sorry to report that I have nothing new to show you. I have been working steadily on two projects, but neither is yet complete.

The first of these is a box I have been making for the "Think outside the take-out box" series of lessons by Debbie Babin. This has been great fun since I have been busy getting messy and playing with beads and thread as well as paint and fabric dyes. The series of lessons is one from Joggles. It is certainly well worth doing. I have a learnt a lot in the process.

This will be the outside of the box. Lots of dye inks used here.

A complete contrast - this is the inside lining of the box. It looks hand-dyed, but is actually a printed fabric I found and loved.

The next is the Green Quilt. I cannot even show you my progress here, since Liz and Simon have not yet seen it. This will take a while since it is rather fiddly, but I hope it will work out all right.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I've done it again!

I have a confession to make. Do you remember a couple of weeks ago, when I told you I was on a yarn and fabric diet? Well, I've bought some fabric! Oh dear..........

I went to a lovely Quilting Exhibition given by a local Quilt Group. It was Beartown's "Sewing through to Silver" exhibition. A celebration of 25 years as a group. A lovely exhibition held in the Town Hall in Congleton. The main hall was beautifully lit. It is a very high hall with lots of windows around the top where there is also a balcony. There were some exhibits by local school children upstairs on the balcony and from here there was a marvellous view of the rest of the exhibition. Sorry, I didn't take any photographs......

It all fell apart when I left the exhibition. I went past Dot's stall. Big mistake.

I met this delightful witch and remembered that soon it will be Halloween. I often have youngsters coming to my door as part of their Trick or Treat. So she just had to come home with me. Then I thought about lining her cloak, so the next two fabrics joined the collection.

After that, I just could not stop myself and the next few pieces added themselves to my feverish fingers, all the time hearing my husband's voice in my head saying "I told you so."

Some black and white for my collection of black and white fabrics; a vivid splash of colour for the linings of two boxes I am making; a delicate blue and white Royal Doulton print from Woodrow which I could not resist; a music inspired print for a bag I intend to make for one of my music groups (a Recorder group, and two choirs) to stop me getting my piles of music muddled up; and some batiks. What is it about batik that I just cannot leave the fabric alone?

Now I find that the two fabrics I had chosen for the cloak lining are not quite big enough and I will need a much bigger piece. How will I just confine myself to a single piece? I must be strong...

The two pieces of halloween fabric? I now have plans for two drawstring bags to hold the treats for my young visitiors when they arrive. Much more fun to reach in and help yourself than just being handed something.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Exploring and learning new things.

I've been away. On holiday. Short notice as usual, a last minute decision to go away for a few days. The cats were not impressed, but forgave us a soon as the next mealtime came around.

(Outside display of a small shop in Nice. The steps you can see were those of the alleyway leading up past this shop.)

(Picture taken while the ship was in Ajaccio, Corisica.)

An amazing experience. We went on a cruise in the Mediterranean. Its the end of the season there, and we were very lucky with the weather. Taking advantage of any trips offered, we visited Nice, Monaco and Monte Carlo, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Girona, Palma and a quick tour of Corsica!

(The gardens in front of the casino in Monte Carlo. I just loved the use of the mirror in the fountain. It is reflecting an image of the casino itself.)

This photo is the Duomo in Florence (Firenze).
I later found evidence of knitting in Firenze! I didn't see any yarn shops though.
Some delightful carving on the side of the Leaning tower of Pisa.
Blocks of marble at the port of Cittavecchia, From this port we went to visit Rome.

This marvellous marble floor is that of the beautiful Pantheon.

A wonderful mix of the ancient, the old and the new.
Our only bad weather arrived in Rome, when it rained. It didn't stop us having a really interesting tour around the city. There were also a couple of nights when it was a bit blowy at sea, but even that wasn't much. As I mentioned before, we were very lucky with the weather.
The following photo is of a gorgeous tile floor I saw as we passed through a narrow alleyway in Girona. The house was being renovated.
This amazing building is in Ajaccio. The Post Office occupies the ground floor.
The last few photos were taken as we walked around Palma, Majorca on our last day.
This building used to be the Grand Hotel. Its now a Library and Civic centre.

This is the floor inside the entrance of the Museum of Modern Art. The building can be found in one of the alleyways up in the old section of Palma. We found an interesting temporary exhibit of Picasso's drawings while we were there.

My last photo was of one of the private courtyards to be found in Palma. The gates were being rebuilt, and so we had this delightful scene peeped at through some railings.

We saw so much that I really couldn't explain it all to you. It's such a special experience to wake up every day knowing that the ship has arrived somewhere different. We shall try to return to Rome and Florence again one day - these places are so huge and there is so very much to see. Girona was quiet by comparison. A lovely place to see. Corsica was amazing. Now that is another place I would love to return to, perhaps to visit Sardinia as well.
As you can tell, I took loads of photographs, mostly following my own fascination for texture and colour. The colours were so bright and gorgeous.
I promise I shall get back to the textiles next time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Knitting and sewing - and dreaming.

It has been rather busy here with a number of projects on the go at the same time. So far this week a skirt has been completed. The fabric for this skirt was found in a local Charity Shop. Its a lovely soft rayon fabric which drapes well. The colour shows up better in the next photograph. Its the fourth fabric from the top. Pink with orange and blue. The top is an old one I knitted yers ago. Its an Anna pattern and is a gentle orange colour. Funnily enough, the pattern I used was from the Burda Magazine (2/2007), the same publishing house.

I have also cut out the fabric for a blouse - the black and white print shown last time. I intend to get this started later on today. The blouse I am making is the one labelled B. The red one on the bottom left.

After this, I have two dress lengths ready to cut out next. I shall be making one of each of these dresses. However, I shall probably simplify teh sleeves, I am not sure about that silly tie.

There is also a length of curtain fabric ready, with lining material, for a new jacket. It will become the short jacket in the middle. Hopefully, I may have enough fabric left to make the waistcoat.

For the knitting projects, I have a pair of socks, a pair of fingerless gloves and a blanket all sitting in my knitting bag ready to be taken up again.

This is the blanket. I started with the larger square using up some of my sock yarn pieces. I am knitting onto this to make the whole thing bigger. Not sure how this will turn out since it is being made up as I go along.

So far this week, I have completed two little gift bags. The first one is an established pattern and uses up some of the yarn I had left over from the pretty Summer Socks I completed a couple of weeks ago. The second one was made up as I went along. Why didn't I just do the first pattern once more? Well, I tried, but I just couldn't get it right the second time around. So I messed around with some really simple lace ribbing and a simple cable rib, which didn't use a cable needle. I quite enjoyed it. The top of the bag has some Fyberspates yarn added since I ran out of the cream Pinguoin sock yarn. The bags are roughly 6 inches tall and 5 inches across. The second bag has been lined with some of the coffee coloured satin lining I bought to make my new jacket.

In the planning stages are two quilts.

The first is a green quilt for my elder daughter and her partner. She asked for a green quilt. I hope she will like the finished quilt, because it will encompass rather more than just the colour green. Sorry about this, but the design is "under wraps" for now since I am not too sure whether she reads my Blog or not. Pictures later when I have shared the initial ideas with her. Either that or I have shown her the finished top. Knowing me it will probably be the latter.

The second quilt is one to go on my mother's favourite chair. I haven't got too far with ideas for this one just yet. The ideas will, I know, start flowing as soon as I have got most of the design work on Liz's quilt finished. The piece of fabric shown above is one of the furnishing fabrics used in mum's livingroom, so is here in my workroom as inspiration.

Just at the moment I really need to get my wardrobe sorted out, so quilting will get under way once I have completed most of the clothing items I mentioned above.

This will sound very strange, but I have now officially started a fabric and yarn diet. I was chatting to a friend in the Knitters within Borders group last week, and told her of my intention not to buy any more for a while. I shall not share this momentous news with my husband since he would just find the whole idea hysterically funny.

However, the main idea behind this decision is that I have ambitions to clear out the built-in wardrobe where my various stashes reside. Then I can put in some purpose-built shelving and containers. It would save my regular battles with the sliding doors which no longer slide. I should also be able to find things much more easily. Perhaps I would also be able to find room for the clutter which fills my workroom floor.............. I can but dream!

Some rather nice news - Park City Girl has started advertising her Autumn Quilt Festival. See the icon to the right hand side of this Blog post to see more details.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sewing, knitting and trying to use the stash.

This wonderful sight is the major part of my large-piece fabric stash. There is more, but these are my less special fabrics. I am a dreadful hoarder/collector of gorgeous fabrics, but I am determined to use most of this stash over the next few months.

I went to the outdoor market to find thread and a zip to complete the project shown below and fell for these gorgeous fabrics. Two colourways of the same design and a really busy back and white fabric. All are John Kaldor fabrics and are Rayon, I think. The black and white print will be used for a blouse since it is lighter weight than the other two. These will turn into dresses before too long.

The dress I was completing was this one:

Made from Crepe de Chine, it is this pattern:

I needed another rather special dress for a celebration at the weekend, so I got sewing. I wouldn't have said it was that easy a project. You will note that the pattern says "Very easy Vogue". However, that may well be because my beloved sewing machine decided to throw a wobbly and didn't want to help.

I was not best pleased. I got out the maunal! Yes, I still have it for emergencies like this.
Stitches were jumping and not completing properly, thread was shredding, etc, etc........ After I had tried all the solutions offered by the manual, I got on the phone to Jaycotts. I got a really interesting and helpful explanation of what might be happening and some solutions. The main one being that it would need a service. I decided to abandon the machine. Time was running out.

After a soothing cup of tea, I took out my old trusty Husqvarna, and got on with things. Dear machine, it didn't let me down.

It is now almost thirty years old! I bought it late in 1979, buying the best machine I could afford.

Yesterday, having threatened my newer machine with a service. I decided to give it another try, so that I could document exactly what was going wrong and provide some samples. It started behaving itself. Now is this an intermittent fault, hated by technicians and owners alike? Or is it sorry for getting me so annoyed? I really am not sure what to think.
Ah well, back to the comparative sanity of knitting. I have been knitting socks for myself. This pattern has been designed by a friend, Diana Stevens (The Knittery). The first pair was knitted in Pingouin Machine Washable Sock Wool. I have not seen Pingouin yarns for many years, and have not been able to find an online source.
The yarn knitted up really nicely.............

I enjoyed it so much that I am making another pair. It will be nice to have cosy toes this winter.
This next pair of socks is being knitted in King Cole's Zig zag. It is fun watching the colours change as I knit.